Podcast 282 – “How Evolution Occurs”


Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


[NOTE: All quotations are by Terence McKenna.]

“There is no catalog of psychedelic effects, and so how does one know what the full spectrum is? It’s a very tricky matter.”

“At five dried grams (of magic mushrooms) it’s very easy to invoke a voice, a kind of logos-like phenomenon, which operates as the typical hierophant. It’s the teaching voice. It’s Virgil to Dante. It’s a very large and superior force which takes you by the hand and then narrates the various scenarios that you’re conveyed through. … The trick is to get something out of it and get away clean.”

“Human language is a psychic ability. I can make thoughts in your head by simply uttering small mouth noises.”

“It is not that culture is evolving. The evolution of culture is an epiphenomenon attendant upon the evolution of language. Language is the part of man which is evolving. Culture carries along. At the present moment we are able to speak 21st centuries ideas to each other, but our culture is carrying along at about the 1950s level.”

“We are not going to move into the future until we create that future through language.”

“I believe that people have deeper and subtler senses of humor. I think that people have more refined aesthetic sensitivity. I think people have a greater sensitivity to the mysteries of human interaction simply because so much LSD was taken in the Sixties. And these are permanent changes that will not be wiped out.”

“We’re very fond of the notion of an ever-expanding sphere of understanding. But has anyone stopped to notice that if you have an ever-expanding sphere of understanding, necessarily the surface volume of the frontier of the unknown becomes larger and larger. It’s like building a bonfire bigger and bigger to convince yourself that there’s an awful lot of darkness.”

“You can discover [using psychedelics] actually that the adventure of being is not a cultural adventure. It’s not a societal adventure. It’s a personal adventure, and that this is what you really need to be involved in.”

“There is always a low level of mutants in a population, but they are of no consequence as long as the selective parameters remain the same. But when the selective parameters change suddenly these individuals, who were previously masked in the general population, the selective advantage that they have now comes immediately to the fore. And they act very quickly, and critically, to send the evolution of a given species off in a different direction. . . . It’s that the new types were always there but not with any advantage. It’s that the new situation has conferred a sudden advantage on them, and they are moving then into positions of dominance in the population, or the society if we’re talking about human beings. I think that the psychedelic experience is like that at the present level. There is a population of different people in the general population, and as conditions change these people will be seen to have adaptive advantages.”

“What the psychedelics really do, I think, is release us from cultural machinery and put you right up against the human essence.”

“I think there is a potential for immortality, but it isn’t assured. It is something that comes to the courageous. And somehow in the historical experience we’ve gotten the idea, through orthodox religions, that salvation comes to the subservient, and this is totally wrong. It is more like the Greek ideal of the hero, that if you’re heroic enough once you’re dead you’ll be a god. And I think this is what these things summon us all to.”


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Weekend of June 15-17, 2012
“Terence McKenna: Beyond 2012”

Esalen Workshop
Bruce Damer and Lorenzo

Posted in Consciousness, Creativity, Culture, Evolution, Future, Language, LSD, Psychedelics, Terence McKenna (mp3).


  1. Good job on preserving these precious recordings. BTW Revlin – it’s definitely a watch this space on the speed of light thing – TM may well have been onto something there.

  2. Lorenzo,
    Thank you for the great work you are doing with this podcast. I think of all the great talks you have digitized from cassette tapes. You say this one was from 1984(?). The physical tape itself was probably not long for this world, and to have it digitized and available to anyone with the equipment to hear it is a miracle.

    As I listened to this talk, I was reminded so many times of this statue, one Terence may have been familiar with, but which shows a Buddhist monk chanting a Sutra and having small Buddhas coming out of his mouth. http://www.kuniomi.gr.jp/togen/iwai/kuuya.html


  3. i found this to be one of McKenna’s most essential talks to listen to. i love his direct and fresh delivery from these classic tapes from the early 80s…. endless thanks for bringing these crucial musings/prophecies to the surface Lorenzo!

  4. Lorenzo,

    You too like Anathem. I have listen to it in audio form a half dozen times at least. I am a big fan of Neal. You have redeemed yourself in my mind from your football fandomship which you professed a while back and which still disturbs me for some reason. I guess it’s just too incongruous in my mind. See this at 53 sec for further explanation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWs1h5WAjWY
    Anyway I love you podcast, thanks for all you do. Jeff

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Thanks for that link, Jeff. I just watched it and immediately tried to find the complete movie, but apparently the trailer was all that was completed. However, I hadn’t seen all of the Neal Stephenson videos on YouTube … which will most likely take some of my time today :-). … And I have to admit that I enjoyed Anathem more than I do football.]

  5. Hey Lorenzo: Thank you for all of the pleasant talks. McKenna is always great. I hope you have more Tim Leary, Jiddu Krishnamurti & perhaps Aldous Huxley talks that you will share eventually. The email I left is incorrect BTW.

    Be well man.

  6. YEEEEAY!!! Another psychedelic salon podcast, and it’s McKenna!! I’ve just finished my late shift at work, i know what i’m doing tonight:D

    Pure bliss!!! Thank you, sweeeet Lorenzo;)

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